Friday, July 29, 2011

It's okay to change

Brennan and I were talking about a certain "surgery" we had performed on our little boy when he was first born. In some ways we regretted what we chose but unfortunately, there really isn't any going back. We talked about future sons and whether or not we would choose to do it again. We tossed around different thoughts like, "well, how would we explain to him or his brothers why they look different?" And, "how do we explain to the eldest that we regretted our decision with him, and that's why we made different decisions with later sons? Will he feel like he was the "experimental" child? The one we made our mistakes on and then thought them through later?"

I don't want Hyrum to feel like we didn't think through our actions with him but we did with his siblings. I don't want him to feel different from his brothers. I don't really want it to be an issue. So, at first we thought, "well, we should choose the same thing with future sons to spare the conversation." But, that didn't really feel right either. Why in the world would we do something again, that we said we wouldn't choose if we were given the opportunity again?

In the end we decided that wasn't a good enough of a reason. We can learn from our choices and make different ones in the future. I mean, isn't that what the atonement is all about? I've thought about this with other children too. I wasn't as cuddly with Hyrum when he was a newborn as I am with him now. I didn't babywear and I didn't co-sleep. I also didn't do my homework on natural birthing to help to ensure a more satisfying birth experience. But I plan to do that with my future children. I don't think it means that I love Hyrum any less or that I didn't care as much about him. Fact is, I just didn't know how important some of these things were to me until they were right there in front of me, or more correctly, right there in my arms.

It's okay to change, it's okay to make different decisions. It doesn't diminish what we already have.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Softening up the Tough Love of CIO

Before we found a sleeping situation and routine that worked well for our family, I was pretty sure we would have to resort to cry-it-out. I knew I didn't like the thought of it and I knew that, at least for me, it didn't feel right. But a mama's got get sleep at some point and I know that for some mothers, you're desperate and sleep deprived enough that for safety's sake, you've got to resort to something. No one likes the thought of leaving their baby to cry but I know some people resort to it as a last-ditch effort.

As I started doing some research on CIO methods, I discovered that they're not all created equally. The most common methods are Ferber check and console and the Weissbluth extinction cry. I'm not sure which one I personally find better. Check and console seems gentler to me because you're reassuring your baby but, at the same time, most baby's really aren't reassured by words. Also, until they're 8-9 months old, babies don't have object permanence. So, once you leave the room, they don't really know you're still out there. Extinction cry, from what I gather, has faster results so at least it won't last as long. Either way you choose to go, there are some things that a parent can do to gentle-up the tough love. Here are a few suggestions I've found for those who find themselves resorting to CIO:

* Sears method: Stay in the room and in physical contact with baby. Place baby in her crib with a hand on baby's tummy or back and let her cry-it-out. This method ensures that baby is not relying on sleep props such as sucking or rocking, but you're also not leaving her to cry it out alone.

* Have a loving nighttime routine: This one might help everyone, whether you choose to CIO or not. Have a loving, relaxing routine that you do before going to sleep to signal sleep and to calm baby down for a good night's rest. A warm bath, massage, read a book, sing a song, etc. It might be best to establish this routine for a few weeks before choosing to begin CIO.

* Teach baby to be a self-soother: If you're okay with thumb sucking, put baby's thumb in his mouth as he drifts off to sleep or help him learn to twirl his hair, etc. With time, he might choose those soothers instead of a parent.

* Wait until 4 months old: This is where I really get fired up about CIO and most of my disdain for CIO comes. Many people who have heard of CIO but haven't done their research start CIO earlier than 3-4 months. A baby less than 12 weeks old is incapable of self-soothing (Weissbluth). When they wake up crying, it's truly because with mom gone, they wake up thinking they've lost their arm or something (Mom is like an appendage to them). In those early weeks a baby does not recognize the difference between others and themselves. They are, so to speak, "enmeshed." Respect your baby's need for touch and feedings during the early weeks and you'll build a trust that is less likely to be diminished by CIO.

* Leave a piece of you behind: Babies have an unusually good sense of smell and your scent is comforting to them. Sleep on their crib sheets for a couple nights, leave a breast pad, or once your baby is 4 months old, you can introduce a small, safe lovey that you can wear in your shirt throughout the day.

* Use your baby as the barometer: By around 3-4 months, your baby has settled into his temperament and it's easier to read your baby for signs that what you are doing is helpful or harmful. If your baby is still himself during the daytime then all may be well. If he's clingy, whiny, withdrawn, or otherwise acting differently, reconsider your approach.

* Increase your daytime cuddles: This is especially important before going to sleep at night and when arising in the morning. Communicate to baby to that you're still here for him and that you still value touch and cuddling.

* Do your homework: If you've chose to do check and console, read Ferber's Solve your Child's Sleep Problems. If you're on board with Weissbluth's extinction cry, do the same with Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. If the sleep training method you've chosen does not cite independent studies or outside resources, beware. If an author cites another author, you might want to check out that author (i.e. in the book On Becoming Babywise, the authors cite Weissbluth as their resource for the importance of good sleep and the AAP's statement about crying. However, both have been taken out of context). Remember that just because it's in print doesn't make it legitimate.

* Keep listening to your baby's cries: While it may be easier to get the job done if mom does something other than listening to her baby cry, remember that your baby's cries mean something and that no one knows them better you. Though most of your baby's cries may be "protest" cries, you want to be sure to be aware of any cries that slip into cries of desperation or discomfort. Remember that you're teaching baby that they need to sleep without your help, not that they can't count on you to change a diaper or to be there when you truly need them.

* Make sure Mom (or whoever is the primary caregiver) is supportive of the idea: I hear too many moms talk about how they felt awful but Dad thought it was the right thing to do. Remember that whoever is home the most with baby is the one who knows baby the best. This isn't to say that it shouldn't be a well-thought decision between partners, but if mom has a bad feeling about it, that should be respected.

* Check with your pediatrician first: Overall health and safety should be a higher consideration than 8-12 straight hours of sleep. Some babies have conditions that require night feedings and/or limited crying. Your pediatrician will likely give the go-ahead if your baby is healthy and thriving. However, if she's abnormally small (which is judged by more than percentages) or not thriving, night feedings should, of course, be continued.

* Formula vs. bottle: Remember that formula-fed babies do actually sleep more total hours (daytime and nighttime together) than breastfed babies. This does not mean that your breastfed baby is not sleeping enough but that formula-fed babies actually sleep more than the average (Huggins, The Nursing Mother's Companion).

* Naps and Nighttime: Since your objective is to help your baby learn to sleep without props, try to be as consistent as possible in putting your baby to sleep. If the car is the place for naps then of course, she will assume that she's going to get a nice ride to sleep at nighttime too.

* Establish the "sleep place": If your goal is to have baby sleep in his own bed, establish this before beginning CIO. Moving bed locations and removing sleep props at the same time might be a little overwhelming.

* Make sure baby is comfortable: clean diaper, full feeding, not teething, not in the middle of a move, etc.

* Keep perspective: Whether you choose to cry-it-out or not, remember that those few days of CIO (or months of night wakings) are really so very short in your life as a mother. Your baby will not wake up every night forever. How many 14 year olds do you know of who can't sleep? Soon you'll be wondering how in the world you're going to get them up in the morning.

I know this list isn't exhaustive. For you parents out there who have either researched or resorted to CIO, do you have any suggestions to help lighten the blow?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby hungry day

I'm having another one of those baby hungry days. Sometimes I want another baby so bad. I watch Hyrum grow up every day, getting bigger, learning new things, and needing me less and less. It's just part of growing up and I love watching him do it. He's at such a fun stage and I feel like I'm loving every minute of it. But...I miss the newborn stage. I miss how they curl up under your chin and sleep on your chest. I miss the tinsy winsy diapers. I miss the first smile and the long nursing sessions.

But I have to be honest with myself, sometimes I think I want another one because I want to give birth again. I really, really want that second chance. I want to be able to make different decisions. I want to feel a sense of accomplishment and to feel fulfilled as a birthing mother. I want to prove to myself that I can do it.

And then I worry about what will happen if it doesn't work out. What if I don't have a successful VBAC and I'm stuck with a c-section from there on out? Then I don't want another baby right now. I don't want to lose that hope that things can be different because right now, at least I have that.

It's an emotionally messy day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's really not easy...

If there's one thing that drives me a little batty, it's hearing people talk about another's parenting decisions as the "easy way." As I was looking into the cloth diaper decision I read one mom's post about how she saw cloth diapering as an investment into the future and that while disposables are easier, cloth is better. Now mind you, I think cloth diapering is great. That's why I do it. And I do think it's an investment in our future. But really, is it "easy" to use a disposable? Someone's gotta work more hours at the office to pay for them. That sounds kind of hard to me. And someone's still gotta change them and take them out to the garbage. Whether you use disposables, cloth, or practice elimination communication, it all sounds a little more difficult than sitting on my lazy bum in an easy chair.

As I continued on the mom compared it with co-sleeping, that while training your child to sleep in his own crib is harder at first, it's a better investment in the future. Now hold on is easier? Yup, that's what I think when my little guy wants to hog the bed or when he wakes more frequently because his snack bar is within easy grabbing distance. But perhaps, PERHAPS, some of us choose to co-sleep for other reasons. We like the bonding time, the family togetherness, the emotional security.

Let me tell you what would be easier...throwing your kid in a crib, refusing to respond to their cries, never feeding them, never changing a diaper, and all together not thinking through your parenting decisions. Or you could sell them to your neighbors (that's if they'll take them). Yeah, THAT would be easier. But guess what, I don't know many mothers out there who like the thought of any of those actions.

Here's some food for thought, no matter how you roll in your house, parenting isn't easy! There's just something about that little life and wanting to give them the best possible chance in this world--wanting to help them feel loved, secure, confident, intelligent, healthy, everything--that compels you to keep going and to keep being the best mommy or daddy possible. If any of us were in this for it to be easy, we would have gotten a goldfish.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Your favorite physical characteristic

You know when you look at your kiddo and there's just something so ridiculously cute about them, you can't even hold it in? Their cheeks, their smile, their little wrist rolls...gah! so cute!!! I love how mommies know and love little things about their kiddos that no one else would even notice. For me, I love Hyrum's bone structure around his eyes. Weird? Maybe. But for some reason it's so adorable to me, so perfect. I think a lot of it has to do with it being so visible while he's nursing. If I look down and look into his eyes, I just notice how perfect his little face structure is.

What about you? What is your favorite physical characteristic of your kid(s)?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mothers of two or more

How do you do it!?! Some days I feel like I've got a pretty good groove down. My house is clean, the kid is fed, the morning walk happened...but I still feel like it took all day to get there!!! (Note that is said SOME days). This isn't really a post about my thoughts, I'm just looking for feedback. Here's a hip-hip-hooray for mothers of two or more. I'm in awe of you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bed sharing and emotional security

Remember taking naps with your fiancé on the couch in the middle of the day and how wonderful and sweet it felt? I wonder what it is about sleeping next to someone that makes you feel so close to them. Maybe it's the vulnerability? Or the close physical contact? I'm not 100% sure but whatever it is, it feels wonderful. I've wondered if this isn't the reason the bed has become the symbol of sexuality. The vulnerability brought about by the place where people sleep coincides with the vulnerability inherent in sexual intimacy. Certainly sex doesn't have to occur in a bed (as many a co-sleeping family will testify).

Last night I was thinking about how much I love Hyrum sleeping in our bed. I know it isn't for everyone but I absolutely adore it. Those who oppose co-sleeping often argue that the baby needs to learn to sleep alone. As I was sitting in bed last in the final moments before drifting off to sleep I thought of my early days of marriage when I, too, couldn't fall asleep without my bedfellow. I won't make this a huge post about the progression of my marriage but Brennan and I just have different ways of handling stress. Mine is to talk about it and cuddle up at night and forget about it for now. Brennan likes to think things through, spend some time by himself, and at night that will translate to him going out to the couch to think, read, or whatever. Well, you can see how this would present a little bit of a conflict if the stress happens at bedtime or in the middle of the night. Brennan would simply want some alone time but I wanted cuddles! And guess what!? Immature as this sounds, I would seriously get worried if I woke up in the middle of the night and he was gone.

Quick story: Once upon a time Brennan planned this cute, romantic getaway for us after final's week. Because it was a surprise, he needed to pack the car and run to the store without my knowing. So, he decided to do it at 2am thinking I would sleep through the whole thing and he wouldn't have to explain himself. Well, I woke up and Brennan wasn't there! I tried calling his cellphone but no answer. I ran outside in the December cold and no car. In my 2:30am delirium, I called my mom. I was convinced Brennan had either 1) left me or 2) had been kidnapped (our minds in the middle of the night...sheesh!) Mom calmed me down and advised that I try to go back to sleep. Thankfully Brennan walked through the door as I was getting off the phone with her, took me in his arms and explained that he just couldn't sleep and decided to go out for a few minutes. I was so stinkin' mad at him for making me worry but boy did my anger dissipate the next day when we arrived at our cute little retreat.

Over the next year or so, I still had a hard time sleeping without Brennan in bed with me. If I found him asleep on the couch after watching a movie I would wake him up, nearly in tears, and ask him why he was on the couch. He would kindly come back to bed with me because he could see that it was something I needed right then.

Now we've been married for a few years and though I still prefer to have Brennan in bed with me, it's not a big deal if one or the other of us stays up later than the other or if he decides at 2am to make himself a glass of herbal tea because he can't sleep. There was no "coming of age" day when he simply said, "you've gotta learn to do this on your own!" It was just a natural process of time and security in our relationship.

I think the same goes for our littlest people. All of the worry about them never moving out of our beds is silly. I know Hyrum will move out when he's ready, when his security in himself and in Mommy and Daddy is strong enough that he knows we'll always be there for him when he needs us. We've just chosen not to rush that move. In the meantime, we love the snuggles and we love the closeness it affords.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book review: Baby-led Weaning

I know I said I should lay off parenting books for a while but I was about done with this one so I thought I should post anyway. Please forgive me :)

This book was so much fun and it made me really excited about starting solids with Hyrum. Here's the overall idea: Offer your baby safe, healthy foods and let them feed themselves. This thought 1) makes sense and 2) seems strange. We've all grown up with the idea of feeding little kiddos from a baby spoon and making airplane sounds to get them to open wide but this book squashes that notion as a necessity. Instead the authors suggest that babies develop self-feeding skills at the same rate their digestive tracts are able to handle the food and at the same rate that their bodies actually need solids. Here are a few of the general elements of baby-led weaning:
  • Many people in our society have an unhealthy attitude toward food whether it be picky eating, eating disorders, or obesity. The authors suggest that these unhealthy attitudes may begin in infancy when children are spoon-fed food. Spoon feeding removes a child's control over what to eat and how much to eat. The authors suggest that instead, families should be eating healthy foods together, as a family, and the baby (as well as all members of the family) should be able to choose what and how much to eat.
  • To allow your baby to feed himself, offer foods in manageable sizes. At 6 months, offer stick shapes because they pick food up with a palmar grasp and as they get older offer smaller pieces they can pick up with pinchers, offer child-sized silverware as they grow so they learn to use it as they're ready, etc.
  • To do baby-led weaning safely, never put food in your child's mouth. Babies can, when given appropriate foods in appropriate shapes to their development, handle it safely on their own. But, when food is put in their mouths for them, they no longer have the control over the food and the baby is more likely to choke.
  • Babies who feed themselves and are allowed to touch, hold, examine, drop, smoosh, etc. learn about food and also learn many other different things like cause and effect, gravity, how to handle different textures, etc.
  • Solid foods should not begin until 6 months old because this is 1) when their digestive tracts are ready and 2) when they can self-feed. This point was actually a big seller for me. One doctor will say four months, another six months, and another whenever they seem interested. It made sense to me that a baby's body was ready for solids as they became ready to handle them in other aspects.
  • Milk feedings should remain the sole source of nutrients up to six months old and should be the main source of nutrients until at least12 months old. The authors point out that introducing solids before 6 months can cause an early decrease in the mother's milk supply. Since breast milk or formula are far more nutrient-packed than cereals and other baby foods, babies below 6 months should have more breast milk or formula if they are acting hungrier or waking at night, rather than starting solids before the 6-month mark. They also point out that babies who seem interested in solids are actually just interested in just about everything. Curiosity is not a sign of readiness (kind of reminds me of the church's position on receiving temple covenants).
  • Babies should be allowed to exercise control over their food--both by feeding breastmilk on demand and by not forcing a baby to eat solids that they don't want to eat. This helps to create a healthier relationship with food, cuts down on mealtime tantrums, and allows baby to learn appetite control.
  • Babies only start to need solids at 6 months. Even though they're mostly playing and not eating much at first, as long as they're still having plenty of milk feedings and being offered nutritious foods at every meal, they're getting enough to eat.
Overall, I really liked this concept. I've watched too many kiddos who won't even touch something they've never tried before and I don't doubt it's because they weren't allowed to explore many different foods as a baby and young child. I also really like how it goes against the whole idea of an outside institution (especially baby food companies. I'm just not a huge fan of most of them) deciding what and how much your child should eat.

We've been doing baby-led weaning with Hyrum for a couple of weeks now and it is so much fun and so easy. We just give him what we're eating and he tries just about everything. Even if he makes the "gag" face like he doesn't like it, he still goes back for another try. Thus far, I'm pretty convinced and we're all having a good time. Best part, because we're giving baby what we eat, we're all eating healthier too

Monday, July 18, 2011


I'm kind of addicted to blogging and reading parenting materials. Kind of ridiculous. I spent approximately 9, count them, NINE years in college reading, assessing arguments, writing papers, etc. I kept saying I couldn't wait to be done with school so I could spend my time doing fun things like knitting, sewing, or going for a daily run. Rather than conducting close readings of opera libretti, digging into literature surrounding gender performativity, or analyzing how one brushes their teeth as a personal ritual, I was going to get freedom!

Luckily, I still get to do fun things from time to time but it's still not quite how I imagined it. Instead I'm constantly trying to find some study, some evidence that what I'm doing is right. Bah! It's like writing a thesis over and over again. Maybe I need to go back to school so I have something else to write about. My husband would probably refuse though. He made me promise to be done with least until we were done paying for the four combined degrees we just finished.

Something dangerous happens in graduate school--suddenly your opinion matters. Suddenly you're writing for conferences and sending your papers to well-known professionals in your field. Suddenly you're the one with answers and a "specialty" that others don't have. Suddenly YOU'RE the invited guest to teach a lecture in a class. So, now that I don't have an audience for my rantings about Lacquer's one-sex theory or bell hooks' black-feminist arguments I turn to what I feel passionate about now--mommying. And now, I write and read about THAT all the time. I absolutely love it and hate it at the same time. Someone save me from myself!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We're in this together

I've always been amazed at how people of the same career, the same family, or the same community can be so incredibly different from one another. Perhaps the most shocking to me is the differences between people of the same faith. On the parenting book front, Ezzo and Sears are both Christian evangelical authors and yet you probably couldn't find two parenting philosophies farther from one another.

Just as an unrelated tidbit, did you know that there are more genetic differences between people of the same race than there are distinguishing characteristics between differentraces? And yet we posit black and white as dyads when really, when the genetic codes are all lined up, a little white girl in Missouri may share a stronger genetic resemblance to a little girl in Indonesia than she does to her white next-door neighbor. Maybe biology is telling us something--we're all much more the same--and much more different--than we think.

Before I get into a lecture about the performativity of race or gender, I return to this issue of parenting philosophies. It's no secret that I adamantly oppose the Babywise program. Sometimes even I wonder why in the world it bothers me so much that I keep writing about it, but there's just something about it that feels wrong to me. And yet it intrigues me. I wonder why anyone, especially a loving parent, would choose to follow its advice. And yet it has a loyal following, even amongst some of my closest friends. One of the most notable Babywisers, Valerie Plowman, shares the same faith as me. How is that? How is it that two women of the same religion, (I presume she also has deep and abiding faith) could have such different philosophies? How is it that in chatting with other young moms in my ward some plan to breastfeed to three and co-sleep until their kids move out of the family bed on their own, and others cry-it-out and think the family bed is the worst thing you could ever do for your child? How is it that Ezzo claims his program is "God's way of raising children" while Sears pushes just as strongly that a Christian parent is an attached parent?

I don't know if there is a straight answer to that question. If you've got one, I'd love to know. But this much I do know, after further thought, both people are right--at least for them and their family. If I were to schedule feed and cry-it-out as a newborn I really would be a bad mom because it's not me. I believe so strongly in touch, family togetherness, choices, comfort, and teaching by example. To me that translates as babywearing, bedsharing, baby-led feeding, cuddles during crying, and showing rather than yelling or spanking. I also spent far too much time questioning claims and cross-referencing resources in graduate school papers to feel comfortable following parenting advice that doesn't have any independently cited scientific or psychological benefits. Simply claiming, "this is God's way" doesn't really cut it for me. But I know for others things are different. I can respect that for someone else, the same things that work for me and my family would also make them a "bad mom." Of course I think I'm right (I mean, don't we all?) but I can respect it.

But, this is something I legitimately struggle with. I don't really understand it. Maybe some of you have some insight? In the meantime, as one fellow mom pats me on the back and tells me I'm doing a great job and another gives me the stink-eye, I just have to remind myself that we really are all in this together. We truly do want what's right and until someone can show me in the scriptures, "Ferber is right" or "Babywearing is wrong," I guess I'll just go about doing the best I can.

1/3 of the Host of Heaven

Were lost. As a Latter-day Saint, I believe in a pre-mortal life, a life in which we lived with God before we came to Earth. We were taught by Him, loved by Him. But, 1/3 of His children chose to follow another path. They chose not to be with Him or follow His plan.

I was quite struck by a comment my friend Ellen made on my last post about giving parents too much credit and/or putting too much pressure on them for how their children turn out. I think she's right. We're all trying to do our best. I, personally, don't know a parent out there who doesn't care about their children and doesn't try to teach them a right way to live. And yet, some children simply choose another path. Often times we blame the parents, the coach, the school teacher, etc. But really, our children have their agency and no matter how much we love them or how much we try to teach them right from wrong, they have their choices.

Is there any parent more perfect than our Heavenly Father? And yet he lost 1/3 of His children. He didn't stamp His foot or demand things His way. He simply allowed the natural consequence to occur. It seems like the best thing we can, and should, be doing is being a good example and teaching principles of truth. After that, the choice is theirs and our responsibility is to continue to love.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Let a baby be a baby

We decided to go with baby-led weaning to introduce our baby to solids (post soon to come). It has been so much fun and my husband and I are both very much enjoying this transition into the world of food for our little guy.

I know that most people who do baby-led weaning are of a more "attachment" mindset but I was curious about other parents and their experiences with baby-led weaning. So, I hopped on to Chronicles of a Babywise Mom to see if she had posted anything about it. Sure enough, there were even some Babywise parents who had taken on baby-led weaning. That really excited me!

As I started reading some of the parents' experiences I was a little upset by one parent's comment,
"We chose to introduce meals slowly rather than straight into 3 meals a day, but we still had the meals structured into our routine and definitely still followed BW [babywise] expectations like no throwing food, smearing it around, lifting up the plate, etc."
Maybe this is silly, but I was almost shocked at the thought of expecting my 6-month old baby to not throw food or smear it around. In fact, that's one of the key points to baby-led weaning--to let your baby explore food, learn about it, how it feels, how it moves, etc. This is how they learn about the world. A baby throwing food (or anything) isn't being defiant, that's just how they learn about gravity, distance, their own strength, etc. I haven't read Babywise II about introducing solid foods and table manners because, well, I kind of think it would just boil my blood and be a waste of my time, though I've been a bit curious.

Call me a pushover, a softie, or whatever you will but I believe strongly that we just need to let kids be kids. They will spend so much of their lives being adults, why turn them into one at such a tender age? I'm not suggesting that people just let their children run wild and that there be no family rules--quite the contrary. I just feel that expectations should be age-appropriate and more importantly, individual child-appropriate. To me, expecting a baby to sit quietly, strapped to a high chair, with their hands on the side of the tray waiting patiently for their food to be put into their mouth is just asinine. I'm pretty sure that parent feeding their child would not be terribly patient if the roles were reversed.

As far as teaching our children, I believe the best teaching is done by example, not by force. Well-behaved parents will likely produce well-behaved children because that is what they see. Loving, warm parents will likely produce loving, warm children. Parents who yell and spank will likely produce children who will also yell and spank.

In working to raise my children in a Christ-centered home I think of what kind of a parent my Heavenly Father is to me. I know everyone's understanding and relationship with God is different but the God I know is one of love and understanding. He does not leave me to suffer without comfort. He holds me accountable for what I know and for what I am capable of doing. He is loving, gentle, and kind. That is the kind of parent I want to be and the kind of expectations I want to have for my children.


I've gotten onto a soapbox here. Basically all I'm trying to say is for goodness sake, let's learn to let the little things go, let the kid be a kid, and who cares if they smear their food!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Baby carrier 101

While there are hundreds of different types of baby carriers out there, they all perform one (or more) of the following three functions--front carry, back carry, and side or "sling" carry. The list of pros and cons of each type are endless and if you're looking for an exhaustive overview, check out the chapter "To have and to hold" in Attachment Parenting by Katie Allison Granju.

Pocket sling

This is the most basic type of sling and probably what you think about when you think of slings. It drapes diagonally across the body and there are no rings or buckles. The advantage of this carrier is that it is very easy to put on and therefore is more likely to be used around the house or for a quick trip to the store. The disadvantage is that it is not size-adjustable. I ordered a pocket sling three weeks ago, dropped about 8 or 9 pounds (thank you pregnancy weight
for FINALLY starting to come off) and it already doesn't fit very well. So, probably not your best bet for the long haul. It is also the most difficult to get baby into proper positioning because, again, it doesn't adjust.

Ring sling

This style of sling is also worn diagonally
across the body but is adjusted with a set of two rings. This style of sling also has the advantage of being easy to put on though it does take a little more time than a pocket sling. The rings allow for easy adjustment to the body as well as to the top or bottom of the baby by simply tightening the cloth through the rings at the top, bottom, or both ends of the ring. Most people who babywear and use a sling prefer this style of sling because the adjustments make for a safer and longer-lasting sling.


Wraps are made from many different types of fabric. However, the two most common styles of wraps are ones made from stretchy, knit material (i.e. Moby wraps) or from sturdy, woven material (Didimos). The advanta
ge of wraps is their versatility. They can be tied in a variety of ways and therefore are great for babywearers that want just one wrap for every occasion. However, they're generally a little more difficult to learn how to use and perfect each of the different holds and obviously since they have to be wrapped, they take longer to put on.

"Stretchy" wraps are generally easier to use and are significantly cheaper than woven wraps. However, they cannot hold nearly as much weight as a woven wrap. While a Moby wrap states that it can carry a baby up to 35 pounds, most people find that they need to replace their stretchy wrap around 4-6 months and/or 15-20lbs. Woven wraps will easily carry a baby through the toddler years.

Soft structure carriers

Even if you're not a "babywearer" you may
have one of these at home. These are your standard backpack-like carriers that can carry a baby on the front or the back of the wearer. The most popular styles are Baby Bjorn, Infantino, Ergo Baby, and Beco Baby. While they each have their individual advantages and disadvantages, many people prefer this style of carrier because it is easy to use and to get your baby into a proper position. My personal favorite is the Beco Baby because of its wide shoulder straps, minimal padding around the baby (and therefore easier to adjust baby to proper position), it's easy to nurse in it, it can be used as a backpack or a frontpack, and it is remarkably comfortable.

Mei Tai or Asian Backpack

This style of carrier is similar to the soft-structure carriers except it is much simpler, using ties rather than buckles and straps. Many people find this carrier to be easier to use than a traditional wrap because the "pouch" is already created for you, it can be easily adjusted with the ties, and is generally more comfortable than a soft-structured carrier because it does not have buckles or thin straps.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My rant about weaning

I made a boo-boo today. I mentioned to a couple gals who don't have kids that I plan on breastfeeding my baby past the first year. They kind of gave me that, "ummm, you're weird" look. Maybe it's me that is in the dark here but I don't really understand why people think that's so strange. I guess, come to think of it, I used to think it was strange too. But now that I have a baby and have learned so much about the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, it just seems normal. In fact, the current WHO recommendation is to breastfeed your baby until at least 2 years of age. This is for numerous reasons but one of the main ones being the benefits to a child's immune system, which is still quite underdeveloped until around the age of two.

So here's the real question, why doesn't anyone look at a mother strangely for giving her child cow's milk at age one? Cow's milk was meant for cow babies but for some reason that is kosher, but feeding a human child milk that was meant for human babies is strange. What gives?

If you look at infant feeding around the globe, many children do not wean until close to their third, fourth, or even fifth birthday. But in North America and in some parts of Europe, that seems absolutely insane. If you look at trends across the animal kingdom, most other mammals don't wean until they have at least quadrupled their birth weight. If a human mother were to nurse her baby until he quadrupled his birth weight she would likely nurse her baby until an average of 3 years of age.

So why one year old? Doesn't that seem kind of arbitrary when you think about it? Children are considered babies until they reach their second birthday, so why are we in such a rush to move them out of the baby stage and make them grow up before their time. Don't children deserve to be children?

And what about allowing your child to decide when they are ready to give up nursing? One can assume that if there were no arbitrary guidelines or societal pressures surrounding breastfeeding and weaning, most likely the baby would be the one to set the pace. And really, why not have it be that way? In fact, a mother's milk supply is meant to sustain her child at the rate that he feeds. God created a woman's body so that she could produce milk until her baby stopped sucking at the breast, so why don't we follow that?

I'm not saying everyone needs to nurse their baby past the first year but when you look at breastfeeding around the globe, across the animal kingdom, in conjunction with the child-human's immune and digestive system, and the mother's continued ability to produce breastmilk indefinitely, the idea of "You're one, you're done" is what seems strange. In fact, from what I can ascertain, any limits that have been put on breastfeeding (i.e. scheduled feeding, weaning age, etc.) all began with uninformed male physicians in the 1920s and 1930s who knew little to nothing about maternal lactation--the same men who told women with small breasts that they wouldn't be able to produce enough milk and who pushed women to use infant formula because it was better for babies than breastmilk. However, you ask a lactation consultant, someone who has actually been trained in the intricacies of maternal lactation, and she'll advocate on-demand feeding and breastfeeding past the first year. So, why aren't the real experts voices being heard? Why are we still listening to the uninformed, uneducated voices of the past?

I guess that's everyone's choice. But, please don't frown down on me because I choose not to.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

10 reasons I love babywearing

From my previous posts, it should come as no surprise that I love babywearing. But considering how few people babywear and how many strollers and tired arms I see in my daily comings-and-goings, I thought I'd share a few things that I absolutely love about it.

1) Weight loss: I don't know about other mamas, but I've had a beast of a time trying to shed the pregnancy pounds (and more!) but after beginning consistent babywearing, I've noticed that the pounds are dropping much easier. Makes sense--carrying around an extra 15-20 pounds is burning more calories and helping me to shed those pounds! I'm also less likely to grab that cookie when I know my little tyke is watching me do it.

2) muscle strengthening: Wearing your baby in an ergonomically correct way shouldn't hurt but it definitely gets those core muscles toned. Through consistent babywearing I've noticed considerably more strength in my lower back and abs--and I didn't even have to do any crunches.

3) physical contact with baby: Beyond being pleasant, frequent physical contact with your baby is very healthy for both mom and baby. When babies, especially premature babies, are born, their heart rhythms are not regulated. When they are worn tummy-to-tummy with a parent their heart rhythms align and are brought into regularity. Babywearing, especially skin-to-skin, is also linked with greater ease in breastfeeding and better weight gain for baby. For both parent and baby, communication through body and "social" cues are recognized more frequently and responded to more quickly through babywearing. Babywearing parents and babies are better attuned to one another.

4) quieting crying: this is very much linked to the above point. Because babywearing babies are in close proximity to the mother and because their cues are more easily read, they cry less frequently. Also, the rhythmic movement brought about through walking and the natural rocking of the body help to create a comforting, womb-like environment for baby.

5) comfort vs. stroller: Though some people complain that babywearing is uncomfortable, this is usually caused by a poor quality baby carrier and/or incorrect positioning. When a baby is worn correctly it is remarkably comfortable. For me in particular, I have a bit of tendonitis and carpal tunnel and pushing a stroller really aggravates it because of the closed hand positioning. Wearing my baby when we go for walks is considerably more comfortable than taking the stroller.

6) ease vs. stroller: Using a babycarrier or sling is SOOOOO much easier than pulling that darn stroller out. For one, we live in a basement which means I have to lug it up the stairs and set it up every time I want to use it. Also, since we're without a car right now, we use public transportation frequently. Every time I see someone struggling to maneuver a stroller on and off the bus I wish I could just hand them a carrier and preach the gospel of babywearing-ease. (I seriously almost did once when I saw three strollers on the bus. Thankfully there were no handicapped or elderly persons trying to get on the bus because even the most limber had a ridiculously hard time trying to get past all three of them).

7) getting things done: babywearing means that I'm able to get just about anything done around the house with baby riding happily along. Before babywearing it seemed like it took hours to try to get everything done as I set the baby down to play, took care of one task, came back and checked on him, ran and did another task quickly, came back and held him because he was crying, waited until the nap to get more done, etc. Not only am I able to get more done but it means that nap time is now "me" time because I don't have to clean during that time and I'm able to have more time to actually get on the floor and play, read a book, rock, sing, etc with my baby. In addition to more time, I also really like how my baby is with me as I take care of our home. I like to think that as he grows he will be more exposed to what it takes to keep a home clean and tidy. So many people complain that their children don't want to help out and I think a lot if it is because they don't feel needed and/or don't know what it entails because Mom always did the chores while they were napping. Bringing baby along exposes him to chores and tasks at a young age which means he'll be more likely to help out as he gets older.

8) verbal, social, and physical development: Babyworn babies are at eye and mouth level with adults and therefore receive much more verbal and social stimulation than a baby who is at knee-level in a stroller. These babies also develop their neck and trunk muscles more quickly because they exercise the same muscles in a sling or carrier that are used in "tummy time." Babyworn babies tend to hold their head up, roll, and sit earlier than non-worn babies.

9) safety in the city: this one is from none other than this paranoid mommy. When we're in the city or at the mall I like the security of knowing that my baby is on me where he is safe rather than in a stroller where he is more vulnerable to people touching him or even taking him (remember, paranoid mommy here!). Ain't no one gonna get my baby when he's strapped securely to his mama!

10) cutest accessory: Is there anything cuter than a baby? Add a cute sling and things get even better. As a new mommy I often find myself feeling a little homey or otherwise less "done-up" than I'd like to be. But, when I wear my baby I feel remarkably beautiful.

Up next: Babywearing positioning pointers and carrier types.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cloth diaper tip of the day

Do you have a high efficiency washer? They're great unless you cloth diaper because you need a LOT of water to get those things clean. After trying to mess with the settings and still not being satisfied, I found a great tip from Bummis: Get 1 or two towels soaking wet and put them into your washer with your diapers. It will "trick" your washing machine into thinking there is a heavy load. Voila! More water to get those diapers nice and clean.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Learning from my mistakes: Why I'm grateful for my cesarean

As a follow-up to my post a few weeks ago about coping after a cesarean, I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about why I'm grateful for it. I'm not going to get into the miracle of cesareans. I do believe they are a blessing for true emergencies and I'm grateful they exist but that's not why I'm grateful. I'm grateful because my cesarean has made me much more determined to have a natural birth. Before I had Hyrum I thought a natural birth was for super hard-core people and I thought that just wasn't me at the time. But, now that I feel dissatisfied with my birth experience I am much more determined for a different experience. I think if I'd had an epidural and everything went smoothly, I would have just walked away and thought everything was hunky dorey and wouldn't have thought twice about it. However, now I'm filled with so much excitement at the thought of proving to myself that my body can do it.

However, this experience has done more than affect my thoughts towards birthing. It has changed other aspects of my life, especially in regards to health. Here are a few ways that working towards a VBAC has changed my life for the better.

Endurance: I know that in order to feel confident in having a natural birth I will need to have confidence in my physical capabilities and stamina. Maybe it's silly, but this has really pushed me to get into better shape and to not simply give up when I'm starting to get tired. The other day when I was on a particularly tough incline while biking I had the thought, "I should just get off and walk my bike up" but then I thought, "silly girl! You need to learn to push through 'til the end. You can make it!" Know what!? I did!

Nutrition: I feel that healthy eating affects our attitude and confidence in ourselves. Sure I still indulge with some Nutella and pretzels from time to time but for the most part, fruits and vegetables have become the staple in our family's diet.

Weight: In order to avoid any preventable pregnancy complications, I want to be at a healthy weight. I've still got some pregnancy pounds to shed and then some. Working towards a VBAC has given me a reason to want to sacrifice those things that are keeping me from a healthy weight.

Education: I think the main reason most women in the US request an epidural is because that is what they are educated about. I think they can be a blessing but I know that, at least for me, I didn't educate myself enough about what was going on in the birth process as well as possible complications, the advantages and disadvantages of medical interventions and how to make informed decisions regarding them. As a result, I succumbed to a lot of the interventions and ended up having a medical birth. That's not what I want next time and I don't want to be so overwhelmed next time that I allow myself to become passive in the process. I'm taking the time now to educate myself because I want to be able to make informed decisions all along the way.

I think one of the most beautiful things in life is the ability to learn from our mistakes. How grateful I am that I don't have to sit idly by and repeat them again. After preparing myself in any way possible, I know that if I somehow do end up in a repeat cesarean, it will not be because I was not informed or because I didn't work to make things different. And no matter what, this experience has changed my attitude toward so many other important areas of my life.